I keep meaning to start writing proper reviews of books. I was going to begin with Terry Pratchett’s “The Last Hero” hardback ‘picture book’ which I managed to get for £2.99 in Swansea’s Oxfam. The many and rather magnificent illustrations seemed to have a profound effect on TP’s prose (or perhaps my way of reading was altered by the format) and I took a while to adjust to the experience. After adjusting, the book really was a riot and the illustrations really did enhance the reading experience. Before I could write a review, I began reading “Thief of Time” and that novel is proving so enjoyable that I haven’t had the inclination to write the review. Still, all in good time eh?
I began writing an Earth Balm arrangement of “She Moved Through the Fair” recently but abandoned it and have instead completed a solo guitar arrangement in the altered Csus2 tuning. It’s not the best tuning for a Mixolydian melody but I was able to use some of the ideas in my arrangement of “Lisa Lân” to accommodate the flattened seventh.
As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m late to the joyous party that is the writings of Terry Pratchett. I’ve just completed reading his third Tiffany Aching novel and he has leapt into the distinguished company that is my favourite authors. Notably, he is the first male author I have included. He sits with Rosemary Sutcliff, Philipa Pearce, Joan Aiken and Ursula K Le Guin (as I said – ‘distinguished company‘).
Like Le Guin, Pratchett is able to stage epic battles that are fought and won without bloodshed or with very little bloodshed (the way that Tiffany Aching deals with the Wintersmith is a fine example) and he writes about the finiteness of human existence with rare beauty and a certain kind of poetry (the passing of Granny Weatherwax in “The Shepherd’s Crown” is beyond simply moving). And he loves people but hates injustice, that is crystal clear.
Tiffany Aching is a heroine very much in the mould of Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite though far more introspective with her first, second and third thoughts to guide how she acts and reacts. As a Pratchett witch, she constantly puts the welfare of others before her own and strives to learn from each action she takes, often putting aside a response until she has considered alternatives . My kind of protagonist!
Of course, TP spins the narrative with many puns asides and much social commentary. I love the way has footnotes augment the main text.- my particular favourite is *’Werk’… (page 340 of my edition). He has the uncommon ability to create characters that are engaging and complex and this is true equally of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
I’m continually struck by the cinematic and visual quality of Pratchett’s storytelling. He must have imagined these novels as moving pictures, surely!
I have two more Tiffany Aching novels to read – the second and the fourth and then it’s back to the main Discworld novels for me!
But first… I shall treat myself to a reread of “Wee free Men” and “Wintersmith”… you can’t have too much of a good thing.
Having finished reading Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, I’ve just begun his anthology “Summer Morning, Summer Night”. This set of stories contains one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever had the good fortune to read – “All On A Summer’s Night“. It seems quite autobiographical in nature when set against the interviews with Ray Bradbury that I’ve watched and read recently. Young Douglas Spaulding , who lives at his grandmother’s house with a varied set of boarders, makes a touching gesture to local librarian (and also another boarder) Miss Eleanora Welkes who mistakes the gesture for a romantic one from one of the male boarders. Everything about the story is delightful.
Thanks to calmgrove, I’m seriously considering a series of pictures (and perhaps music) inspired by the writings of Ursula K Le Guin. I thought I might share some of the notes I’ve been taking from “A Wizard of Earthsea“. Apologies for the untidiness, handwriting never was my forte.
This is it (The Left Hand of Darkness), the book I’ve been waiting to read and the book generally regarded as “Ursula Le Guin’s masterpiece” – Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. I bought it today in Foyles, Bristol along with Carlo Rovelli’s “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics“. It was on the shelves at Waterstones too but I couldn’t find the Rovelli book there and wanted both. I know, I could have bought each from different stores but that would be alien to me. UKLG books are a puzzle, they seem to be either in all book shops at any given moment or in none at all in another given moment. I keep eyeing up Melvyn Peake’s “The Gormenghast Trilogy” but I’m too mean to pay the £18 cover price.
Looking forward to reading these – I may have to go to bed super-early!!
It’s so obvious that the author worked as a teacher, the book is full of references to everyday life in a primary school that are as true now as when the book was published in the late 70s.
Kemp’s characterisations are well developed without the need to describe the children in great detail – their actions speak for themselves. The teachers featured in the narrative are such accurate characterisations – we all know a teacher like each one of them. I might even be able to recognise myself in one or two of them. Other people might recognise me in different ones :).
And even though I knew of the revelation on the penultimate page, it was still as enjoyable and still as much a surprise when it came. On re-reading, the clues are there throughout the narrative.
If I still had year six, I’d be using this as a class reader.